Apple Offers Apology, Replacement Deal for Tired iPhone Batteries

NEWS ANALYSIS: Reversing course, Apple details information about battery life in a conciliatory letter that seeks to assuage customer anger over device performance.

iPhone Aging Battery Performance

Apple iPhone, iPad and MacBook users now have a more complete picture of what happens to the batteries in their devices as they age, along with a series of suggestions from Apple about how to lengthen battery life.

iPhone users also got a $29 battery replacement deal. All of this came in a letter from Apple Dec. 28 explaining its battery issue and apologizing for making customers unhappy.

“We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down,” the unsigned message said. “We apologize.”

“First and foremost, we have never—and would never—do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” the message explained. “Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that.”

Apple’s apology and the supporting documentation that goes with it serves multiple purposes. First, it attempts to right a perceived wrong in the eyes of customers. The company lost a lot of credibility when the truth about the performance throttling came out, which required a serious mea cupla, along with some groveling as well as something to sweeten the pot.

In this case the pot sweetener for iPhone users is the $29 battery deal which will allow owners of the iPhone 6 and later to replace the batteries in their phones at a $50 discount. The deal lasts for a year, after which Apple will apparently hike the replacement cost back up to $79.

The message from Apple also noted that a new version of iOS will provide more insight into the health of iPhone batteries, but it didn't specify what version or when it will be available.

Considering that Apple has said that iPhones 7 and older are already affected, the company does need to do something to make customers happier. The letter also reiterates that replacing the battery in an iPhone is all that’s required to get the device running at full speed again.

What’s equally interesting is what Apple didn’t say in its message. First, it didn’t apologize for the throttling. The apology was for the lack of communication and for the fact that Apple annoyed its users. Apple also didn’t say anything to indicate that it would stop or even revise the practice.

Users of iPhones older than the iPhone 6, iPads and MacBooks aren’t included in the battery deal. However, Apple does offer battery life extension tips for these devices. Apparently the surviving numbers of these devices are sufficiently small that Apple isn’t as concerned about torch- and pitchfork bearing crowds as it is with later-model iPhones.

But it appears that Apple also has its corporate eyes on users with enough clout to make a bigger difference, for example in court. The first suit against Apple was filed Dec. 21 in Los Angeles.

Since then two more lawsuits have been filed in Chicago and New York federal courts seeking class action status.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...